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“Twenty-five years now and I still love to watch my wife sleep. I’m fascinated by the way the unconscious self (the deeper self) rises when consciousness falls away and often expresses itself in the face of a sleeper.”

—David Bottoms

Kelly Sleeping

David Bottoms, 1949


Sometimes when she sleeps, her face against the pillow (or sheet)
almost achieves an otherworldly peace.

Sometimes when the traffic and bother of the day dissolve
and her deeper self eases out, when sunlight edges 

through curtains and drapes the bed, I know she’s in another place, 
a purer place, which perhaps doesn’t include me,

though certainly includes love, which may include the possibility of me.
Sometimes then her face against the sheet (or pillow)

achieves (almost) an otherworldly calm, (do I dare say that?)
and glows (almost) as it glowed years ago

just after our daughter’s head slipped through the birth canal.

I remember that wet sticky swirl of hair
turning slightly so the slick body might follow more easily,

and how the midwife or nurse or doctor (or someone)
laid an firm open hand under that head

and guided our child into the world.
When that hand laid our daughter on her mother’s breast,

such a sigh followed, a long 

exhausted breath, and (stunned) I saw in my wife’s face 
an ecstasy I knew I’d never (quite) see again.


Copyright © 2014 by David Bottoms. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 7, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2014 by David Bottoms. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 7, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

David Bottoms

David Bottoms

David Bottoms was born in 1949 in Canton, Georgia. His most

by this poet

poem
Loaded on beer and whiskey, we ride 
to the dump in carloads
to turn our headlights across the wasted field, 
freeze the startled eyes of rats against mounds of rubbish.

Shot in the head, they jump only once, lie still 
like dead beer cans.
Shot in the gut or rump, they writhe and try to burrow 
into garbage,